July 3, 2022

Four CannonDesign Architects Elevated to AIA’s 2022 College of Fellows

We are proud to announce that Abbie Clary, Charles Smith, Michael Smith and Alex White have been elevated to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows, in recognition of their significant contributions to the profession of architecture and society.

Fellows are recognized with the AIA’s highest membership honor for their exceptional work and contributions to architecture and society. Only three percent of the AIA’s membership receives this distinction.

Charles, Abbie, Michael and Alex at the AIA College of Fellows Investiture Ceremony on June 24 in Chicago.

Here’s more about each of our Fellows:

Abbie Clary, FAIA, is the co-director of CannonDesign’s health practice. She sees every project as an opportunity for design to be a catalyst for change—in an organization, a community, even society as a whole. She understands how design influences how her clients do business and how they themselves can effect change through their physical environments and operations. Since coming to CannonDesign in 2018, she has transformed the health practice through leading by example and never settling for the conventional, resulting in teams and solutions that raise the value of architectural design outside of the industry. She is in the midst of working on transformational projects with MD Anderson, University of Chicago and more. 

Charles T. Smith, FAIA, is the co-leader of CannonDesign’s education practice. Viewing education as one of society’s most important social institutions, he guides project teams and education leaders in navigating the tsunami of change impacting our education ecology. Each of the projects he leads—such as Malcolm X College, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Lincoln Hall and Purdue University Northwest’s Nils K. Nelson Bioscience Innovations Building—reflects his unwavering commitment to building a sustainable education model that delivers more value and equity for students, educators and communities. Charles was a previous president of AIA Chicago, a nine year member of its board of directors and leader of several industry and civic organizations.

Michael Smith, FAIA, is the business practice and market strategies leader for the Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign. Working in partnership with Mehrdad Yazdani for more than twenty years, he has evolved a unique practice typology—an experimental design incubator within a larger firm—and crafts indelible synergy between the studio and the firm, cross-fertilizing in both directions with reciprocal benefits for both. As project principal on many Yazdani Studio projects, Michael has led work in fifteen states and nine countries across numerous markets and has served on CannonDesign’s Board of Directors. Recent projects include Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Center, Emaar Address at Harbour Point and UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center.

Alex White, FAIA, is a vice president of workplace strategy and change with Blue Cottage of CannonDesign. Alex is a notable force for catalyzing strategic research and design to dramatically improve workplace performance and writing the business case for change. He has a broad spectrum of experience working in various industries from life sciences, healthcare, education, and technology. He is skilled in determining patient needs for a healthcare system, patient journey mapping and more, providing clients with comprehensive and tangible improvements and outcomes. He is currently leading real estate, workplace and experience strategies for customers like Hensel Phelps, Publix, UK Healthcare and is co-leading the experience design for the University of Chicago’s new groundbreaking cancer hospital.

Congratulations to Abbie, Charles, Michael and Alex! Their elevation to the AIA College of Fellows follows on the heels of design principal Ken Wiseman, FAIA, being elevated in 2020.